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Workers' Comp Reform Could Save New York State 800 Million

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VESTAL, N.Y. -

After rounds of negotiations, a bill reforming workers' compensation passed in the New York State budget. On Thursday, Senator Fred Akshar said the bill could give the state $800 million in savings and make workers compensation far less costly for small businesses.

Matco Electric in Vestal says workers' comp is the biggest cost of running their business, paying $600,000 a year. 

"We need it. We don't want to hurt the workers. This bill doesn't hurt the worker in my view. They lose no benefits," says Matco Electric President Mark Freije, "If a worker was injured, it was put in place to get them back to work as soon as possible."

The bill gives workers a 2 1/2 year time-frame to claim benefits for injury, unless they can prove that they need more time to recover. The reform also rewrites impairment guidelines that are used to determine disability. Those guidelines haven't been updated since 1987.

"You're using medicine from 30 years ago," says Akshar.

By using modern medicine to determine the severity of an injury, recovery time may be less, dropping the amount businesses need to pay for workers' comp. Freije says with the savings from the reform, he would be free to purchase more equipment, or hire more employees, growing his business.